The head of the powerful political party linked to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has called for Iraq's parliament to be dissolved and for early elections to be held within six months, the Associated Press reported.
The move signals tensions between Sadr and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, even though the anti-American Sadr bloc is a partner in Maliki's Shiite-dominated government.
Support from the Sadr bloc was instrumental in bringing Maliki to a second term following nine months of political stalemate as parties competed to form a new government after national elections in March 2010, Reuters reported.
Bahaa al-Aaraji, the head of the Sadr bloc, said yesterday that due to the country's instability and the problems threatening Iraq's sovereignty, new elections are needed.
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“The political partners cannot find solutions for the problems that threaten to divide Iraq,” he said, the AP reported.
The New York Times reported that while the move by the Sadr bloc is not enough to bring down the Maliki government, and a new government could take months to be organized, the prospect of a new vote adds more uncertainty to Iraq's already fragile landscape.
Tensions in Iraq have been rising since Maliki, a Shiite, issued an arrest warrant for Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi. The arrest warrant came amid allegations that Hashemi's bodyguards organized hit squads targeting government officials, the AP reported.
Maliki's move underscores the political uncertainty in Iraq since the departure of US troops from the country a little more than a week ago.
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Al Qaeda has taken responsibility for a suicide car bombing that killed seven people in an attack on Iraq's interior ministry in Baghdad on Monday. The attack followed a series of explosions in Baghdad that killed 72 people on Thursday.